FC Barcelona Lassa suffered a narrow defeat in the hands of Panathinaikos OPAP, in a tight encounter at OAKA. Svetislav Pesic’s team has a 5-3 record and shares the same record as their Greek counterparts.
Kyle Kuric, a Euroleague rookie with a significant Eurocup and ACB trajectory behind him, scored 17 points and all the three-pointers that his team made. Kuric (1.93 meters, 28 years old) arrived to Barcelona from Zenit St. Petersburg, where he averaged 15.3 points on 43.3% three-point shooting and 3.5 rebounds in 19 7DAYS EuroCup games last season. He was chosen to the 2017-18 All-EuroCup Second Team for the second time in his career; he previously achieved that honor with Herbalife Gran Canaria during the 2014-15 season. Kuric led Gran Canaria to the 2015 EuroCup Finals, but his next season was interrupted when doctors discovered he had a brain tumor. After three surgeries, he fought back from the life-threatening situation to return perfectly healthy to Gran Canaria at the end of the season.
So far, he seems more than ready for his first Euroleague season, averaging 12.3 points on 48.8% three-point shooting and 100% free-throw shooting. The American-Slovakian national expressed to TalkBasket.net his views about the game against Panathinaikos OPAP and this year’s Barça Lassa.
“It was a tough game, but we let it get away at the end. They outrebounded us: they had 16, we had only 6. This means 10 extra possessions for them”, Kuric said.
Q: Do you think that Barca could have shot the ball better?
A: Of course. I think that we overall played defense pretty well. In the first half we didn’t score that much. We received only 34 points, which is a good score, but we couldn’t find our way to the basket. We came back in the third quarter, but in the end they had too many more possessions.
Q: Except you, noone else from your team made a three-pointer tonight. Is it the first time it happens?
A: I don’t know (laughs). It could be. As long as we play as a team and be aggressive, shots will fall.
Q: Are you satisfied with the team’s performance so far?
A: I think we got a lot better after we let our first on-the-road game against Gran Canaria get away. It was a tough and disappointing loss, but overall we’re playing well in the Euroleague and the ACB League.
Q: What kind of game was the one against Panathinaikos OPAP?
A: It was a defensive game. The first half was very difficult for both teams to score. It was very evident. In the second half, we got back in the game, it went up-tempo, but thet made some good plays at the end.
Q: Did they give you the impression that they are in need of a good shooter?
A: I really don’t know. They are a good team, they have good players. I had no idea that they are the second worst team in Euroleague in three-point shooting.
Q: As far as the Euroleague is concerned, do you see it growing?
A: I think so. You can tell they’re adding things. They are adding two more teams next year and the competition gets better and better every year.
Q: Which are the expectations of Barca this season after two disappointing years?
A: We have to improve. We have to get back to how the team normally plays and how the results are historically. The management wants to create a very good team in order to compete for championships and Final Fours. So, our goal is to get back to that.
Q: What did the team lack in the two previous seasons?
A: Last year, I didn’t watch them too much because I was in Russia. The year before, I’m not sure … Maybe some things were not right, the way they were before. I don’t know if it was because of players and coaches changing, but they were no Barcelona team any more.